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The Turban

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What is a Turban?

A turban is a head covering typically made of cloth, worn by men and women in many cultures around the world. It is typically wrapped around the head in a specific way and can be worn for a variety of reasons, such as religious or cultural tradition, fashion, or to protect the head from the sun or cold weather. In some cultures, the turban is also worn as a symbol of status or wealth. The style, material, and method of wearing a turban can vary greatly depending on the culture and religion of the person wearing it.

Sikh Turban

Sikh Turban

Why do People Wear Turbans?

People wear turbans for a variety of reasons, depending on their culture and religion. In some cultures, such as Sikhism and some Islamic cultures, wearing a turban is a religious or cultural tradition that is steeped in symbolic meaning and spiritual significance. In other cultures, turbans may be worn as a fashion statement or as a way to protect the head from the sun or cold weather. Additionally, in some cultures, the turban is worn as a symbol of status or wealth.

What Different Types of Turbans Are There?

There are many different types of turbans worn around the world, each with its own unique style and history. Some examples include:

  1. Sikh Turban: Also known as a "dastar," the Sikh turban is worn by initiated Sikhs as a symbol of their faith and a mark of their commitment to the Sikh way of life. It is usually made of a long piece of cloth, folded and wrapped around the head.
  2. Arab Turban: The Arab turban is a head covering that is typically worn by men in the Middle East and North Africa. It is made from a long piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head in a specific way and is usually worn with traditional Arab clothing.
  3. Pashtun Turban: Worn by Pashtun men and boys, the Pashtun turban is a long, rectangular piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head and tucked under the chin. It is worn with traditional Pashtun clothing, such as a shalwar kameez or a khet partug.
  4. Patka: A smaller version of a turban, often worn by young Sikh boys and men, it is typically made of a single piece of cloth, folded and tied around the head.
  5. Pagri: A turban worn in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, often as a symbol of respect, status, or religious faith. They come in different styles, colors, and designs depending on the region, religion, and culture.
  6. Do-Rag: A type of turban worn by African American men, often to protect the hair and head from the sun.

These are just a few examples of the many different types of turbans worn around the world. Each culture and religion have their own style and way of wearing it.

The SIkh Turban

The Sikh turban, also known as a "dastar," is worn by initiated Sikhs as a symbol of their faith and a mark of their commitment to the Sikh way of life. It is a fundamental part of the Sikh identity, and it is considered an article of faith that must be worn at all times by baptized Sikhs. The turban is made of a long piece of cloth, usually cotton or silk, that is folded and wrapped around the head in a specific way. The turban is usually tied at the front of the head and then wrapped around the head in a clockwise direction, covering the hair and the ears.

The turban is considered a symbol of respect, honour, and self-respect. It represents the crown of the Sikh spiritual tradition and is a reminder of the wearer's commitment to Sikh values and beliefs. It also serves as a symbol of equality and the rejection of caste-based discrimination. The turban is worn by Sikh men and women of all ages and is an essential aspect of the Sikh identity.

There are several different styles of Sikh turbans, also known as dastaars. Some of the most common styles include:

  1. Patka: A small turban worn by young Sikh boys, typically under the age of 12.
  2. Keski: A shorter turban worn by Sikh men, typically covering the head and ears.
  3. Pagri: A longer turban that is wrapped around the head and covers most of the head, including the ears.
  4. Saroop: A full turban that covers the entire head, including the hair and beard.
  5. Dumalla: A large turban worn by some Sikh men, typically wrapped around the head multiple times.
  6. Parna: A turban worn by married Sikh women, covering the head and hair.

It's important to note that not all Sikhs wear a turban, and there is no one specific style that all Sikhs must adhere to. The style and colour of the turban can vary depending on personal preference and cultural tradition.

Cloth for Sikh Turbans

The cloth used for a Sikh turban, also known as a dastaar, can vary depending on personal preference, cultural tradition, and the occasion.

Traditionally, turban cloth is made of cotton, which is breathable and comfortable to wear. Cotton is also relatively inexpensive and easy to care for, making it a popular choice for everyday wear.

Silk is also a common choice for Sikh turbans, especially for special occasions such as weddings and religious ceremonies. Silk is a luxurious and elegant fabric that drapes beautifully and adds an element of formality to the turban.

Some Sikhs also use other fabrics such as satin, georgette, or chiffon for their turbans.

It's important to note that there is no one specific type of cloth that all Sikhs must use for their turban, and the choice of cloth can vary depending on personal preference and cultural tradition.

Identifying Sikhs

There are clearly many different styles of turbans, and the pictures below show you that it can be difficult to identify the Sikhs from the different styles. There are a few things that you can look out for.

1. Sikhs usually wear a Fifty, which is a strip of cloth underneath a turban in the shape of a triangle.

2. Sikhs also wear a steel bangle on their right wrist too.

3. Sikhs usually have a full beard, although this can be tied up to make it appear neat.

4. Sikhs have a full head of hair, as they are not permitted to cut it. Other faiths cut their hair.

5. Sikhs also carry a Kirpan, which is a small dagger and an article of faith

Sikh Man with White Fifty and Blue Turban

Sikh Man with White Fifty and Blue Turban

Sikh Bangle (Kara)

Sikh Bangle (Kara)

Sikh Kara (Bangle) and Kirpan (Dagger)

Sikh Kara (Bangle) and Kirpan (Dagger)

Arab Turban

Arabs, like many people in the Middle East and Central Asia, wear turbans as a sign of religious piety, cultural tradition, or as a symbol of status or authority. In some cases, wearing a turban is also a practical way to protect the head and face from the sun and sand. The wearing of turbans varies among different Arab countries, with some having a long history of turban-wearing and others not as much. In some places, the style and color of the turban can indicate a person's tribal or regional affiliation.

Pashtun Turban

Pashtuns, who are an ethnic group native to Afghanistan and Pakistan, wear turbans as a sign of cultural tradition and identity. The turban, known as a "pagri" or "dastaar" in Pashto, is an important symbol of Pashtunwali, the traditional code of conduct among Pashtuns. It represents honour, self-respect, courage, and tribal identity. Wearing a turban is also a sign of religious piety, as it is worn by many Muslim men as a sign of modesty and respect for God. Additionally, the turban serves as a practical way to protect the head and face from the sun and dust. The style, colour and tying of the turban is also a way of expressing one's clan and family identity.

Durag

A durag or do-rag, also known as a skullcap, is a small piece of cloth or other material that is worn on the head to hold hair in place. Do-rags are often worn by people with short, curly or kinky hair, including African Americans, to keep their hair from becoming frizzy or matted. They also help to maintain hairstyles such as braids, cornrows, or twists.

Do-rags can also serve a practical purpose, such as protecting the head from the sun or cold weather, or keeping sweat out of the eyes while working out. They can also be worn to protect the hair at night, which can help with maintaining healthy hair and keeping hairstyles intact.

In some communities, wearing a do-rag is also considered a fashion statement, and is worn as a trendy accessory.

Muslim Turban

Muslims, especially those from South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East, wear turbans as a sign of religious piety and cultural tradition. The turban is worn as a sign of respect for God and as a symbol of modesty. In Islamic culture, the head covering is considered to be a sign of humility and submission to God.

In some Islamic cultures, wearing a turban is also a sign of status or authority, and it is worn by religious leaders, scholars, and elders. The turban is considered a symbol of wisdom and respect, and is often worn by men who have completed the Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.

Additionally, the turban serves as a practical way to protect the head and face from the sun and dust, and in some cases it is used as a way to protect hair, particularly for those who grew long hair and beard.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Mr Singh

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